Fortyyears ago, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy became the first American statesman to visit Bangladesh. That historic visit was the start of an enduring friendship between our two nations, a friendship that is rooted in our shared democratic values, our strong economic ties, and our deep people-to-people connections.
During her visit to Dhaka on May 5th and 6th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed that friendship, noting that United States and Bangladesh continue to work together on both the regional and global stage.
We are cooperating to solve some of Bangladesh’s most pressing challenges. Bangladesh, said Secretary Clinton, is making impressive progress on many important issues. It is on track to meet its Millennium Development goals by 2015. Decreasing poverty levels and a rapidly diminishing rate of maternal and child deaths show that Bangladesh has made a strong commitment to improving the lives of its citizens.
In Dhaka, Secretary Clinton stated that the United States “want[s] Bangladesh to be a prosperous, successful, democratic country that demonstrates unequivocally that democracy is the best path to sustainable development. That despite the challenges of a democratic process, there is a consensus that cuts across all political actors, that there must be cooperation on the fundamental issues facing the country in order to achieve the level of development that the people of Bangladesh deserve.
"We are betting on Bangladesh. That’s why it’s very important to us to continue to urge the hard decisions that are necessary for the rule of law, for transparency. None of this is easy. If it were easy, anybody could do it. And a lot of countries have given up or never tried. You have never given up, and you never have stopped trying. . . . we don’t want to see any faltering or flagging. We want to see democracy flourish in Bangladesh
"The progress on the Millennium Development Goals sends a clear message that this can be done,” said Secretary Clinton. “So all of the issues we raise, we raise as a friend and a partner, as a country deeply committed to that banyan tree that Senator Ted Kennedy planted all those years ago.
“We want to see [Bangladesh] flourish.”